By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Deaths from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County topped 24,000 for the first time this week.

County public health officials reported 24,003 COVID-19 deaths Monday, even as case rates remain low and stable and there are hopes of reaching herd immunity by this summer.

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As of May 7, more than 8.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. The vast majority, 5.1 million, were first doses, and 3.3 million have been second doses.

The county says it has made progress in vaccinating its seniors, with 68% of people ages 65 and older now fully vaccinated. Of the seniors who have received at least one dose, 78% are white, 76% are Asian, 71% are Native American, 64% are Latino, and 62% are Black.

“Although we are glad vaccine uptake has been robust among our seniors, not only do we see troubling gaps by race and ethnicity, we also have work to do in increasing uptake among younger populations,” a statement of LA County Public Health said.

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In the 16 and older age range, only 36% of Black residents have been vaccinated, followed by 42% who are Latino, and 58% of Native Americans. These number lags behind 60% of White residents and 68% of Asians in this age group.

“Although 16 and 17-year-olds have only been eligible for the vaccine since mid-April, vaccination in this group has slowed since that time, and about one-third of teens in this age group have been vaccinated,” county officials said.

But even as vaccinations have slowed, public health officials believe Los Angeles County could be just over two months away from reaching herd immunity. In order to do so, the county would have to continue administering 400,000 shots a week to get at least one shot to 80% of all residents 16 and older by mid-to-late July.

The rate of vaccinations could conceivably pick up over the summer. The FDA on Monday expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15, and dozens of colleges across the country may require vaccination for students to be able to return to campus.

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In Los Angeles, all vaccine sites are taking walk-ins, and several have expanded their hours of operation into evenings and weekends.